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Against all odds? Implementing a policy for ecosystem-based management of the Barents Sea.

Academic article
Year of publication
Ocean and Coastal Management
External websites
Involved from NIVA
Gunnar Sander
Gunnar Sander


Ecosystem-based management (EBM) should lead to policy that effectively addresses major negative impacts on the ecosystem in order to solve the problems identified. So far, there is little empirical knowledge about what is conducive to the formulation and implementation of such policies. The article suggests that implementation theory is an appropriate theoretical platform for acquiring such knowledge. General implementation theory is a starting point that gradually can be specified for implementation of EBM through carefully selected case studies. The article describes the theory and demonstrates its applicability by analysing the implementation of the measures in the Barents Sea Management Plan. Despite a policy design that violated several traditional recommendations for successful implementation, most measures in the plan were actually put into practice. The explanation lies in the Norwegian political-administrative system, the mobilization of knowledge, the collaboration created by involving a group of ministries and the authoritative handling of conflicts by the cabinet. All these explanations refer to processes occurring during the formulation of the policy, thus illustrating the need for a broader focus than the implementation process itself when studying policy implementation. The political leadership of the Norwegian government was decisive, demonstrating that EBM can be effectively implemented in a top-down fashion.